Miami-Dade Police Drone Spotted Over Memorial Day Weekend Partiers

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After perfecting them overseas in military situations, it was only a matter of time before the government and law enforcement would start using aerial drones for monitoring US citizens back home. And that time is now, as partygoers in Miami recently discovered.


Back in January of 2011 Miami's police force acknowledged that they'd be the first in the country to employ camera-equipped drones to keep tabs on the city. So while its appearance isn't a complete surprise, this clip from YouTube user 'miamiearl' showing one of the drones monitoring partygoers at a recent Memorial Day weekend celebration, is still a little unsettling.

Of course, police departments all over the country have used camera-equipped helicopters to watch over their jurisdictions for years now. But these remote drones are able to fly a lot closer to the ground, which has citizens worried that the privacy they've enjoyed for years, or at least the feeling of privacy, is in jeopardy.

And it's not like this drone seen in Miami is just going to be a one-off occurrence. New FAA rules have given clearance for more drones to fill civilian skies over the coming years. So in the future, during your Fourth of July celebrations, you should probably get used to the idea of the skies being filled with drones, not just fireworks. [YouTube via Dave Winer via via Prison Planet]



This was all fine and dandy (in that I can't do anything about it), until I saw the part of the clip around 3:40 where the drone is flying dangerously low to the crowd. A couple problems:

1) Liability, if the operator makes a mistake and that thing hits a citizen - LAWSUIT.

2) Where do property rights begin, in the aeronautical sense? At what point do I, as a private, land-owning citizen, have the right to consider this a trespass on my property? It should be outlined as an exact altitude the drones must maintain, regardless of imaging range, to not be considered an intrusion by the police on my property.

Drones, human operated or autonomous, are a natural expectation in the evolution of technology. I understand this, but I feel it necessary to make very clear distinctions between a typical "police patrol" and an invasion of private property without a warrant.